Summer

First, play this song – it all ties in, I promise!

May. I always find this time of year so frustrating. All I want to do is go home and forget about school, but I have to stay and take finals. Talk about cruel and unusual punishment – for a farm kid, this is torture. I know that right now the ducks are running around the yard eating bugs, the goats are taking their afternoon naps, and Dad is probably tinkering in the garden. The air will be thick with the smell of cut grass this weekend, as some of our neighbors are already taking the first cuttings of hay and winter wheat. This is the best time in Cassville because it hasn’t been hot yet. In late July, however, the air will be heavy with humidity and no amount of hairspray will come to my rescue. Over the summer, my kids will transform from scrawny, clumsy babies into fat, shiny bucks and does. Hopefully, the corn will be “knee high by the fourth of July” as the old saying goes, and the worms won’t fall in love with the tomatoes, as they seem to do every year. Days will be spent stretching barbed wire fences and baling hay, but it will seem like nothing when you step back and see a straight pasture and a barn full of square bales (even if you have the worst sunburn you can remember and your shirt is full of red clover!). My cousins from Virginia will come to visit, and the holler will sound like Teddy Roosevelt’s charge up San Juan hill for a few days as we engage in friendly-but-not-friendly bottle rocket fights. Late nights will be spent catfishing and frog gigging, and sweet tea will be the beverage of choice. My hands have grown a little soft since I only work on the weekends, but by August they will be full of calluses and scars once again, and the bottoms of my feet will be tough from going barefoot every day. There will be family drives through the holler to Roaring River, nights camping out with cousins, and evenings spent listening to the relatives tell stories. I always go through a sort of rebirth in the summer (sounds a little cliche doesn’t it?). Once all the hay has been cut and hauled, the grass has grown dry and sharp, and the pond is almost dry from the lack of rain, I know summer is almost over. I’m never ready to go back to classes, but I slowly ease back into the groove and look forward to summer once again. As this semester comes to a close, this is my last post for class credit. I do, however, intend to continue blogging and telling about my experiences. Thank you so much for following along with me this semester and reading my thoughts. I appreciate it!

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Babies on the Farm!

With the arrival of spring (though it seems to be a little late this year) comes the arrival of baby animals.  For most farm kids, myself included, this is an exciting time.  Although it was my goats that were having the babies, I was always proud when I finally had kids.  I had waited so long, and in some cases, prayed so hard for my babies to be hearty and healthy.  I have witnessed the miracle of life many times.  Sometimes that life is snuffed out after only a few minutes, and sometimes, a life doesn’t even get a chance to begin.  When there is a life, though, I get shivers when I see that baby take its first breath and wobble to its feet that first time.  Many long nights have been spent out in the cold barn, flashlight in hand, trying to stay awake, waiting for a doe to finally decide to have her babies.  Many hours have been spent trying to teach a hard-headed baby to take a bottle, and helping to dry off brand new kids when the momma couldn’t do everything herself.  Sometimes I think that this is the most rewarding part of being an agriculturalist – preserving a life for the next generation to learn from and care for.  If this is my duty, I know that I have done it well, and I will continue to do my duty in the future.

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April, the first and biggest baby.

 

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This is the second baby, a nanny, who we haven’t named yet.

 

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This is May, April’s little sister. Her momma wouldn’t take her, so we are raising her on a bottle. She was still pretty weak in this picture, but she is strong and healthy today.

 

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Meet Bess and Betty, who were the last babies born. They are twin nannies, and are Boer-Nubian cross. We had them on supplemental bottles for a couple of weeks, but they are totally with their momma now.

 

Spring Out Here

I guess I never noticed before, but spring kind of creeps up on you out in the country.  One day everything is brown and covered in snow, and the next, there’s green grass almost an inch high.  The buds on trees burst overnight, and baby animals just seem to appear out of nowhere.  Being home for Easter was kind of a bummer since the new season is just now getting a good start at home.  I had no sooner got out of my first class this morning when my mom sent me pictures of the only kids I’ll get this year.  Leave it to temperamental, spoiled nanny goats to withhold their children until after I leave!  On top of missing my kids, my duck eggs are due to hatch tomorrow. There are few things in life more adorable than tiny new duck feet, even if ducklings are louder than a tornado siren!  At night, the spring peepers keep up a commotion in the pond, and I so enjoy seeing the mist rise off of the fields in the morning.  As you may be able to tell, I really love spring!  Yes, summer is lovely, fall is a huge  relief after the heat, and winter is beautiful, but all life is renewed in the spring.  The air is not yet muggy, and you can still smell the dirt in the air.  In a few weeks the garden will be ready to plant, and there will be no end to weeding, tilling, watering, and rock picking.  When the hay is tall, it will be cut, raked, baled, and hauled in a matter of days, only to be repeated again when the grass grows back.  When the heat of the day is gone, there will be fishing trips and barbeques, swimming in the creek and catching lightning bugs.  For now though, the nights are cool and quiet, and we still just flip through the seed catalogs.  Balers and air conditioning are far from our minds as we sit in the living room with all the doors and windows open.  We’ll enjoy these few brief weeks of spring before the Missouri heat moves in, and then we’ll pick okra and green beans, and dream of next spring.

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A new little doe just born this morning!

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Also a little doe, trying out her new legs!

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These aren’t babies from this year, but they are the same breed that will be hatching this week. You can’t see them very well, but they have afros on top of their heads!

Hurry up, Spring Break!

As I have told you before, I grew up in the country. Seven months ago, I crawled out of the hills I call home to come to Missouri State. At first, the homesickness was terrible, because I could only go home every two weeks since my car was not fixed. When that problem was resolved, I began going home every weekend. As of now, however, I have not been home in over two weeks (16 days, to be exact), and I am going insane! Don’t get me wrong, I love Missouri State, and I am having a wonderful time, but those of you who know about the transition from the small farm to the city life have some idea about what I’m talking about. As of now, I am relatively well adjusted to the life of a college student. However, with the coming of spring, I find myself wanting to go home more and more. One of the most beautiful sounds in the world is a soft spring rain falling on the baby grass as the spring peepers sing their hearts out. In a few weeks, the air will be filled with new baby goats calling to their mothers, and the ducklings will be frantically calling to the hen who is right beside them. Spring in the country is a wonderful time, and I am looking forward to Friday, when I get to go home for the first time in almost three weeks. The goat barn is coming together nicely, the nannies are fat and will be kidding soon, and the baby rabbits have opened their eyes. Spring, you have no idea how welcome you are! All I can say is that I will not be happy until my car is going over the rise on farm road 1135 and I see my home sitting on the hill. Friday cannot come soon enough!
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The new goat barn. One whole side and half of another is finished, and next comes the roof!

Tucker Farms: An Official Introduction

Hello to all! There is so much going on at the farm that I will probably have to post several times this week! I went home this weekend, as I do most weekends, and I had no problem finding something to do. For this first post, I thought I would introduce you readers to a few of our animals. This will be rather lengthy, so I apologize in advance!ImageSo, first and maybe the most exciting activity is the building of the new goat barn. We have been wanting to do this for a while, and my Daddy started setting posts earlier this week. This barn will be used for housing goats, particularly during kidding season.

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Here we see the brains of the operation, otherwise known as my Daddy and my older brother Dustin. Dusty lives in the next house down, but still comes to help out when we need him. Daddy is a regular man of all trades, and he dreamed up the ideas for this barn by looking at other plans. I will keep you all up to date on their progress as best I can!

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Okay, so this one I might get in trouble for! This is my older sister Carolyn building a rabbit box. I reassured her that I was only getting the box in the picture, but I sneaked her in too! Carolyn has several rabbits, and is always perfecting some sort of feeder or pen that will make caring for them easier. I guess she got that from Daddy!

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So here is my department: the goats. These are a few of my breeding does, and one of my bucks. As I mentioned last week, they are mostly a Boer-Nubian cross, although we do have a few that we have “collected” from random places and people. They thought I was going to feed them so they came running, disappointing them, but giving me a great photo op!

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A few more of the breeding stock.

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And a few more!

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This is one of my bucks I used this year. His name is Captain Jack, and this is the second year I have used him. He threw some gorgeous buck kids last spring, and I hope the same will happen this year!

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These are a few of my yearling does, who were born in March 2012. They are mature enough to breed, but I prefer to wait until they are older.

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Another shot of the yearlings, along with the “guard llama” Buddy. Ever since some dogs killed most of my herd years ago, we keep at least one llama in every pen of goats at all times. I have not had a security issue with my goats since!

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Another pair of llamas. This is Onyx and her baby, who remains unnamed as of now. The llamas are my momma’s project, and she’s been raising them almost as long as I have been raising goats.

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The latest baby born on the farm. The sire is on the left; sort of weird how the baby is almost pure white!

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Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to Breakfast, Dinner, and Supper! These hogs were born early this spring and are actually going to be leaving the farm this Thursday to go to the slaughterhouse. Anything tastes better when you raise it yourself, and this is going to be some good bacon!

ImageThis is my little doe rabbit, who was also born earlier this year. I used to raise many rabbits for my 4-H project, but I gradually got out of that when I started with goats. This doe is bred and will have babies in time for Easter!

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These guys are noisy, messy, and so much fun! I have always enjoyed raising ducks, and I bought the first of these particular ones two springs ago. I believe they are Crested Blue Swedish, and I get little ducklings every spring. In the words of The Little Rascals, “Nothing beats a buck and a duck!”

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A few of our laying hens and the rooster. These are Cinnamon Queens, which are excellent egg producers and are very hardy and easy to raise. We get about one and a half dozen eggs per day.

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This is Hank, my dog. He is Blue Heeler-Australian Shepherd cross. I have had him for about 12 years, and he helps us work cattle. His partner, Katie (below), belongs to my sister, and is Blue Heeler. They are both getting pretty old now, and mostly laze around, play fetch, chase the cats, and shred shoes.

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Okay, I think the only one I have not introduced you to so far is my momma. So here is a picture of Momma and I back in April at Missouri State FFA Convention in Columbia. I had just received my State FFA Degree at this point.

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So hopefully now you know a little about my family, farm, and the animals we raise. I would love for you to follow me or comment on my blog anytime. I hope you enjoyed catching up with me this week, and thank you for reading. Happy farming!